The Neville Affair
(The Real Malfoy Files)
Part 3 - The Breakfast Table
By Krissy and Libertine
It was the talk of the breakfast tables the following morning. By this time, the story had spread even to the Ravenclaws and the Hufflepuffs - Draco Malfoy and Neville Longbottom were in some sort of mad, homosexual sex-crazed relationship. The moment the two entered the hall (first Neville, with his Gryffindor friends, and then Draco on his own, looking particulary exhausted) the room went silent, until they were seated at their respective tables.
Generally unimpressed at the world at large, Draco picked at his bacon and eggs with a fork, and anyone who looked his way was treated to a stare so harsh that they quickly went back to whatever they were doing. But that couldn't curb the spreading rumours. Draco could hear them all whispering his name.
..Draco.. Neville.. Draco.. Neville..
Neville, at the opposite end of the room, kept his head down. He was blushing so hard he almost glowed. Hermione, on the other hand, was exceptionally pleased with this development.
"There's nothing wrong with it," she was telling Ron, in a purposefully loud voice. "Absolutely nothing wrong with it at all. You're just an anal retentive prick. You have to see people for what they are, not for who they choose to sleep with. If you don't practise tolerance, Ron, I'm sure you'll have a very unhappy life."
"'m not gay," Neville told his breakfast. For once, he wasn't hungry. And he couldn't bear the looks he was recieving from all sides - some of them disgusted, some of them amused, and some of them.. congratulatory? Neville gulped.
Then he felt someone put their hand on his elbow and jumped a foot.
"Shit, Neville. It's only me.." said Harry, frowning. "Just - wanted to make sure you were okay, is all." He paused, as Neville cowered. "Are you?"
"I'll take that as a no," said Harry, reading the hopeless cast of Neville's face all too easily. Sympathetically, he patted Neville on the back. "Come on, Nev.." Turning, he poked Hermione, who glanced up, annoyed that she'd been interupted mid-rant. "Me and Neville are going for a walk - we'll meet up with you in Potions, okay?"
"Huh. But Neville and I were going to talk about shopping," Hermione said, shortly.
"I'm afraid there's some more important things I'd like to talk to him about," said Harry, equally tersely. "Come on, Neville."
And so Neville went, following Harry with both hands held over his face, while the entire student body swivelled to watch him go.
"Hey, Draco, your boyfriend is going off with Potter," Millicent Bulstrode giggled.
Draco raised himself from the observation of his congealing breakfast.
"Shut your fat, ugly face," he said, slowly and deliberately, "or I'll find a spell to do it for you."
There was a sudden, shocked silence amongst the Slytherins. Bitching about people in other houses was a given at their table, but it was quite another thing to challenge or threaten one of their own.
Then Blaise grinned. "Touchy, touchy.."
"It's okay, Draco," Crabbe beamed. "You'll always have us."
The entire table fell into hysterics and Draco, in a perfectly dignified manner, pushed his plate aside and began to bang his forehead repeatedly against the tabletop.
They walked toward the common room together, Neville shuffling and staring up at Harry from the corners of his eyes. He looked scared, and Harry felt an immense amount of pity for him. Sighing, he offered the password to the Fat Lady, and they trooped into the room.
Harry wasn't quite sure what he wanted to do from here. He'd just felt so terrible in the breakfast hall, watching the others talk about Neville as if he wasn't sitting directly infront of them. But he had an alterior motive, too. A haunting suspicion was writhing in the back of his brain. And all thoughts of confiding anything in Hermione had swiftly vanished following her display today.
"Um..?" said Neville. He sat down on a couch, and hugged a pillow to his chest.
"I thought we'd better get out of there," Harry explained. "It's sort of - the wrong place, really. People can be pretty harsh."
"They were t-talking about me," Neville muttered. "I - I didn't even do anything. I don't know how it happened. I sort of fell, and then Draco was there, and he yelled at me. And.. you do believe me, don't you, Harry?"
Harry tilted his head on one side, regarding the luckless boy. He'd never known Neville to lie before - he didn't think Neville had the imagination for it. But if he were to take what he'd seen in the bathroom at face value.. He scratched his head with a grimace.
"I slid onto the floor, and he was - um, touching himself," said Neville, in a small, weak voice. "I think I surprised him. And he - I got stuff on me. He was lifting me up as you came in. Ask Crabbe and Goyle, if you like. It was only a few minutes after they finished chasing me that you all burst in."
He did have a point there. Harry chewed his lip. "So - you aren't gay," he said, finally. "Whether you were experimenting, or whatever.. I don't care. But you aren't. Right?"
Neville's face was bright pink. "I.. don't know," he said, in an even softer tone. "How am I s-supposed to find out? I haven't even kissed anyone before."
"Well, if you got a choice to kiss anyone in the world, who would it be?" Harry asked.
He was completely surprised by Neville's reaction. The boy buried his head in his pillow and began to sob, loudly. Quickly, Harry settled down beside him, and put an arm around Neville's shuddering shoulders.
"Look, I'm sorry, Neville," he said, comfortingly. "I didn't mean to pry. I just wanted you to know that - if you want to talk about it, I guess you can talk to me.."
"That's the problem," Neville wailed, into the muffle of the pillow. "You're always so - so - so damned nice to me.."
Ron could almost believe it. Infact, he was at the point where he was beginning to wonder why he hadn't spotted it before. There were signs - you could tell them apart from everyone else, no matter what Hermione said. Neville was always very girlish - he cried openly, he was notoriously flitty, forgetful, and in short he was just like every girlish-girl Ron knew.
And Draco was a flaming queer. You only had to look at him, and the way he swung his hips as he walked, and the way he flirted. Teasing and taunting.
In a totally sexy way.
Ron blinked. I did not just think that, he thought, furiously. It must have been all these gay vibes going around. It was catching.
"Reckon Harry and Neville are up there getting jiggy with it?" Dean speculated, with a mouth full of toast. "Just look how Draco's fuming at the Slytherin table. I bet he's jealous. Look - he just threw a fried egg at Blaise.."
"Sexual frustration," said Seamus, knowledgably. "I get it all the time. Pass the butter, Dean?"
"This is ridiculous," said Hermione. "Can't you be serious about this? It's a very difficult time for them both. You aren't helping the process any."
"I think you were the one who completely derailed the process," said Dean. "Walking in on them like that."
"How rude," agreed Seamus, buttering a slice of bread.
"Total mood-killer," said Dean. "Neville and Harry have been gone for fifteen minutes, now. I wonder if they'll make it to class."
It was a bit of a fumble, the kiss - when it happened. A mash of lips against lips, barely grazing against each other. Harry was the first one to realize how awkward it was, and pulled slightly away, gazing at Neville through foggy eyes. Even if it had been weird, it was nothing he had expected.
"That was " Neville trailed off, not wanting to vocalize his thoughts first. The experience with Draco in the bathroom had gotten him thinking about what it would feel like to actually *try* something with someone.
"..weird?" Harry offered with a small grin. He stared at the boy in front of him. "I guess kissing is something you grow into." Even to Harry's own ears that sounded stupid but he didn't further his words.
"Want to try again?" Neville asked, hesitating.
Harry nodded and Neville leaned forward, brushing his lips against Harry's lips. It was chaste, but this time it lasted longer and Neville visibly relaxed. As long as he didn't screw this up, maybe there was hope for him.
"Good," Harry supplied. Neville nodded and took the initiative and leaned forward, pushing Harry against the foot of the bed, on his back sprawled across the red blankets.
"Let's keep trying," Neville whispered, kissing him again. Only with Harry he seemed to be this way. Bold enough to lose himself in the softness that was Harry. Maybe rumours were a gift in disguise.
"Harry..?" he said, quietly between kisses, and then paused, catching his breath. Beneath him, Harry had grown suddenly still: not the same kind of still as before, but an awkward, expectant stillness. And then the implications of what he was going to do finally hit Neville. He flushed a deep red that was something between the maroon of Gryffindor with a cherry red tomato.
"Er, I'm sorry Harry," Neville stammered as he struggled to remove himself from atop. "Maybe.. um." He shook his head, nervously, and withdrew. It had felt nice, though, to be the one in control. And not terrified that he'd be the only one to mess up. Harry had seemed worse off than him. More unsure and unstable.
Harry smiled. Neville looked positvely cute when embarrassed. I wonder why it took me so long to see that, he mused.
"Don't be sorry," Harry said gently. "It was... fun."
"Yeah," Neville gave a tiny grin, "fun." Part of Neville was pleased with that. No one had ever called time with him 'fun.' Another part of him resented it. If he was so fun, why had it taken him so long to tell him? They'd known each other for years! Shared a dorm room together, for Merlin's Sake!!
Harry felt his lips droop into a frown when he caught Neville's expression. "Something wrong?" When Neville didn't answer, he edged on. "Is it all that stuff with Malfoy?"
"What?" Neville started, eyes flashing open wide at the mention of the blond Slytherin. "Oh, um, yes. It's really upsetting." he admitted. Neville bit his lower lip. "I don't think we should do this, you know."
Harry furrowed his brow. "Why not?" He sat up, sitting straighter next to the other boy. "Are you afraid of more rumours?"
"Well, er, yeah," he admitted. "Besides, it wouldn't look good for Dra -- Malfoy if we were seen together."
"Since when do you care about him?" Harry asked, confused.
"It *was* an accident," Neville reminded him. "And it *was* my fault, and.."
"You're too noble for him." Harry sighed, but he nodded. "I agree, though. Shall we head back to breakfast?"
"Er," Neville shook his head. "I think I'll just wander a bit, if that's okay. I'm not very hungry. Can you tell everyone else that I'm okay and I'll see you guys later."
Harry smiled brightly, "Sure. And -- Neville?"
"It'll work out, I promise. Peeves'll probably make some poor first year wear a pink dress and that'll be the new talk of the school."
Neville smiled gratefully. "Yeah. Maybe. Thanks, Harry."
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